Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Month of July in Review

Here is a month of running at a glance.

7/1 - 2 miles

Week 1 (7/2 to 7/8) : 18 miles

Week 2: (7/9 to 7/15) : 19 miles

Week 3: (7/16 to 7/22) : 12 miles (race week)

Week 4: (7/23 to 7/29): 22 miles

Week 5: (7/30 to 7/31): 5 miles

Total Monthly Miles: 78 miles


Not a bad month really. I have turned the corner and now I can sustain my pace over the entire run. So I feel better on July 31 about my running than I did on July 1, and that is really the important part of this. I love running.

Two in Row ... who would have thought

I have had two great runs in a row. This is following a week that showed steady progress through the week. Call me butter because I am on a roll. (sorry a little casino humor from my days as a dice dealer). Today I went out for an easy 5. Seems strange to say such a thing. Easy 5, in March I would have laughed at such a statement. But anyway. I was up at 5 am and out the door at 5:30. Those who have read my posts before have experienced my whining about my miserable first miles. But I have come to understand that mile 1 has been setting the tone for the rest of the run. So the more I concentrate on mile 1, the better the rest of the run will be. If I get off too slow it will be a slow run.

My goals for easy are 14:00 or better. My schedule says 15:00 but that is too slow for me right now. Today broke down as follows.

Mile 1: 13:26
Mile 2: 13:25
Mile 3: 13:45 (I took on some water at the beginning of mile 3)
Mile 4: 13:35
Mile 5: 13:27

I can't say how pleased I am. If it was possible for me to be tickled pink I would be. I felt solid the whole way. I think I am finding my rhythm and pace. It really is a matter of putting in the miles. With the miles comes the experience to understand your body while running. I am getting that.

Interesting note maybe only to me. A small community of beavers is now living in Pennypack Park. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on my on Sunday when I saw one scurry out of wood pile. But today I saw a couple swimming with small sticks in the creek. This should be interesting. When I was a teenager living in New Hampshire, I am a country lad by birth, a group of beavers took up residence a quarter mile behind my father's home in Hooksett, N.H. They flooded out a nice size area including part of a cemetery. We will see what happens here. The park folks are there everyday so I don't worry too much.

Last Night:
Cross training notes - Last night I threw about 500 hand strikes (punches, elbows, finger strikes, and chops), 300 kicks (front kicks, side kicks, round kicks and back kicks), 150 crunches, 100 side crunches and 50 leg raises. I was reading about core body workouts and wanted to take care of that sooner rather than later.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A great run ... for me

I set out later than usual on Sunday, I am usually a morning runner due to my schedule. But, my daughter was down for a nap at 5 pm and this was the first opportunity to get out. So I set out to get my 8 miles in. The first mile is usually a miserable undertaking for me so I was quite pleased to see a 14:13 in mile one. The rest of run went quite well:

2: 13:48
3: 13:57
4: 13:30
5: 13:58
6: 14:12
7: 13:42
8: 13:39

This really did turn out well. I felt no down grade in energy or endurance at any part of the run. I sipped water every other mile and took an energy gel at the end of mile 5. This cost me about a minute at the start of mile 6. I can't really rave enough about energy gels on long runs. I have used them only a few times so far but the results are remarkable. I find that I am able to sustain my energy much better. I am not as dogged out as the race gets past mile 5 as I was before. With the better attention to hydration + the energy gels
I can really see a difference in my running, a difference for the better.

I think I mentioned before that I am a terrible hill runner. Maybe terrible is too soft a word. It doesn't give those who are terrible enough credit for their hill running ability. I am miserable at it. Today, I did a great job of digging in and keeping my pace on the hills. I just mantra-ed my way through them. "There is no hill, it is flat" "I can, I can" "There is no quit, there is no quit"
In the end I kept pace well enough. The only walking I did was at the start of mile 6 where I took on the energy gel. That is it. This was a far cry from my 7 and 8 I did a few weeks back. I am pleased.

Week in Review:

Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4.5 miles (with a 3 mile tempo)
Saturday: 5.5 miles
Sunday: 8 miles

Total: 22 Miles

This was a good week, I felt strong each day and my runs got progressively better throughout the week. I feel like I am running the courses now instead of the other way around. Of course taking 30 pounds off since March probably has a lot to do with that. But I feel much healthier and it is finally showing in my training. It is nice. I have a long way to go but I feel as though I have turned a corner. Thanks to everyone who has offered me support along the way, including my fellow bloggers. Your posts and comments have really helped me to stay focused, thanks. I mean it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Five and a half miles and I feel fine

Today I ran for five and half miles. Usually when I get to five miles it means I am going to be exhausted. But not today. It was a scheduled five mile run but as I did not get to five on Thursday I added a half mile today to get my weekly numbers to the appointed schedule. I have been toying with the times lately to figure out what is easy for me, or what really makes a run easy? Sometimes I am not sure. I think it means it should be comfortable but not effortless. So when I put my program together it said that I should be looking at 15:00 minutes. This seems a bit slow but close for an "easy run". I thought if I can get to between 14:00 and 14:30 average that would be fine. I would like to scale back to about 13:00 to 13:30. But that might take time to do over a long run.

Well here is today:
Mile1: 14:42 - the first mile for me is always horrid, I always fight the urge to stop in the first mile.
Mile 2: 14:11 - Picking up the pace and feeling fine through the mile
Mile 3: 14: 22 - The pace was fine but I have a tendency to go up and down in my pace even if I don't think I am.
Mile 4: 13:36 - I felt good, no energy problems as I usually get as a run gets over three miles
Mile 5: 13: 45 - This felt like the same pace to me and I felt good with no desire to slow down at all.
Last half mile: 6:32 (13:04 pace). This was a nice finish. I wasn't huffing or puffing. I felt in control the whole way and I ran through the hills without too much trouble. Hills are what kill me on a normal run. So today was good.

It is nice to feel progress on the runs. A month ago I ran a seven miler where at mile 5 I was just dead. But I think I have gotten better. Now I can do five miles without feeling depleted. Even when I dug in on the hills to run and not lose pace I still had a lot of energy left after the crest. A good one. Another good sign is that usually I feel like I need a nap after 5 or more miles but not today. I know that i will be fine for the half marathon in September as long as I keep at it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Best Part of Running

I have written a couple of times about what I like about running. It ranges from some alone time to reflect to always feeling better after I am done. In the end what I really enjoy the most is being able to test myself. There is always a point during the run when I can feel my endurance failing or the desire to just slow down. I am still pretty new to running so I am not at the point where I can just do an easy run and just go through the paces. Maybe I will never get there because I like to push. There is a comedian named Ron White who says that he father said, "that boy's got a lot of quit in him." I like to fight that desire to quit when I run.

I like to reach deep and find where the break point is and go past it. That is what I look for. Can I dig in for just a little more speed or a little more distance. Is it possible to make it to 5 miles or 8 miles. Can I? Should I try and is trying enough? Is it enough for me or is success the key to the question? Measuring success can be a difficult thing and we all have different standards. I like to dig in and give more than I thought I could when I go out to run. That is what keeps me coming back. To show myself that there is more to me than how I appear, that there is something inside that makes me extraordinary. Just like every runner, cyclist, swimmer and other athlete there is something extraordinary just waiting to be called on. When I reach it I feel great, it is the best. To accomplish something that you were not quite sure you were capable of doing. I can. There is a fat man chasing me everyday, but he is losing because I can. There is no quit, there is no too hard, there is only I can. This is why I run. I can.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tempo up

Today was my first tempo run on my 1/2 marathon program for the Philly Distance Run. I was concerned with the times on the program because they were much slower than what I am used to running. After to talking to my co-worker A., I decided to kick the times back a notch. I was thinking that 13:00 would be fast but had thought I might be able to handle 11:45. (I am a bit of a dreamer on occasion, I may be able to work up to this I think.) On with the results, I did a 15:00 slow pace work up after taking an energy gel first thing. (5:00 am is really early, most birds are still sleeping at 5:00 am, and most people with sense.) But most people aren't lawyers with a commute. So I have to get it in early or it won't happen.

So I get out on the course at 5:30 am and start my bounding warm up. As I, and others have, said before the first mile always sucks. So I get through and my watch beeps that 1 mile is done. Off I go. I am going well and have to dodge some broken glass. This really upsets me. Why break beer bottles on a running/ biking trail? I wouldn't complain too much about litter. I can just pick it up and throw it into one of the many garbage cans on the route. But broken bottles, that is just a nasty thing to do. There were about three on the road. I was trying to get a time in or I would have at least tossed it aside. But anyway I continued to run. My breathing was a bit hard but I was able to keep the pace up. The end result.

1. 12:13
2: 12:18
3. 12:40 (I got tired)

I finished with a half mile cool down and came home. I think I am going to put a small plastic bag in my belt pouch on future runs so I don't feel so bad when things like the bottle happen again. I am pretty satisfied with the run but I would like to scale it back to 12:00. Well there is always next week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weight Change and Two Workouts

This morning I checked my weight for record and I was at 261. This is 4 pound change from last month. I don't really worry too much about the weight. I know that if I keep running and am mindful of my diet it will all work out. So this is another steady month 1 pound a week. Which is fine as I am exercising a good deal so I don't know what type of muscle mass I am building but I am sure it is more than when I was sitting on the couch. If I lose 3 to 4 pounds a month I will be happy.

Last night was my Kenpo class. I like this as my cross training as I have to pay attention and learn as well as exercise. I did take an elbow to the arm pit right were the nerves all cluster together. Ouch. That one really hurt at the time. But besides that it was a class dedicate to hand speed. I do well with this type of format. In the end, I was huffing and puffing and dripping with sweat. Good class

This morning I went out for the first leg of my half marathon prep for the Philly Distance Run. This was supposed to be an easy 4 miler. I did one those Runners World plans that had you enter a time and they put together a program for you. Well the times they want are too slow, who would have though I would say this. But they wanted me to maintain a 16:39 pace for the 4 miles. Well that wasn't going to work. I had to tweek the times so I did. Easy is one thing 16:39 is something else for me right now. So I did a 14:30 pace, this is easy for me. Well not all 14:30. I tried the 16:39 for mile one, I felt like a slug. (It is amazing how smug I have become about my running over the months. I used to have to push myself for a 16:39 when I first started. I really am a humble person it is just that right now this is too slow for me.) So I finished the first mile at 16:30 and then thought about what I was doing and kicked it up the last few miles to finish with:

Mile 2: 15:20
Mile 3: 14:40
Mile 4: 14:20

Good enough I think. Tomorrow is the tempo run which calls for 5 miles total and 3 miles at 14:08, I think that 13:08 is more like it. So I will shoot for that instead.

Injury report:
Shins are a bit sore still the downhills at the Marsh Creek is still being paid for. My heel is tender but better. Amazing that a hard landing can have such long lasting effects. Shoulders and back a little sore from class last night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Small Delay in Training

I really should have known that I would have some lingering effects from the Marsh Creek Race on Sunday. But I felt good Sunday so I thought Monday would be fine. Well I was wrong, who would have thought. Yesterday and today I have been through some foot, shin, back and butt pain (a pain in the butt with a pain in the butt, hmmm). The trail courses play some havoc on my body. Foot pain is a left over from a martial arts class two weeks ago when I came down too hard on a couple of techniques.

The delay is bummer as I was to start my half marathon training course today: but I didn't. I had a great plan I put together, but as Tom and Amy at The Runner's Lounge have previously posted, plans are great but execution is what really counts. Post race recovery is something I should have given myself three days for, a mistake on my part. I am just a rookie at this running thing so I guess mistakes are expected. It is really just aches and pains so I will probably be able to get kick started tomorrow or Thursday.

Tonight is my martial arts call I hope my legs feel up to it and tomorrow is my monthly weight check.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A tough race

I went out today for the Marsh Creek Raptor Run a 5 or 10 mile race. I went out with the best of intentions this morning; however, it was a chore getting to the race as the directions on the race form were incorrect. This left me a bit off but I still had time so I go to the race in time for the start. This was one of Ron Horn's races, Ron Horn puts together the races for Pretzel City Sports (see side link), and as such it was challenging and fun. There is always plenty of post race food a nice little awards ceremony and nice people all around. I recommend all of these races for this reason.

I am a little disappointed in my finish time to be truthful. But there are two things that happened on the course that ease my disappointment. First, I twisted my ankle pretty bad on some tough rocks and I had to walk about 5 minutes before I could run again. Second, I took a wrong turn where a marker was knocked down and ran 6 t0 8 minutes out of my way. So all told I lost about 8 to 10 minutes. I finished my 5 miles in about 1 hour 17 minutes I think I can adjust this to about an hour and 7 minutes or so with my set backs. I am not terribly upset with 1 hour 17 minutes and subtracting stupidity makes it respectable in my mind. The problem I have with today is that I was able to flat sprint at the end of the race, which means I had too much in the tank at the end and could have gone faster on the course. However, I just can't run hills very well, yet. So when I approach the hills my speed drops to almost nothing. Additionally, I sometimes cannot even run I have to walk. This is the disappointment, that I just can't get speed going up. I have the energy but I cannot translate that into output, yet. I am sure this will come with time. I have only really been running for about 5 months. So it will take time but right now the hills are my adversaries.

I did love this course, I will freely admit this. The hills were challenging but not overwhelming. This was not easy but did not make me want to fall over and give up. The ground was broken in parts with lots of rocks and tree branches. Ron Horn up to his old tricks ran the course through deep mud, over downed trees, at one point between a downed tree and under another all marked with a happy face when all you wanted to do was curse the course. I liked it and I will do it again next year. There were some good things on this course:
  • I only twisted my ankle once on the course, thank you Brooks. A 75% reduction from my last trail run.
  • When I got some straight aways I did cook up some speed
  • I did much better navigating rocks
  • I was able to get through deep mud with little difficulty
  • The time didn't show it but I felt fast at times
  • I was not too tired at the end - energy gels are great for keeping up your energy on a race. I am glad I went and got them. I think it will help my running immensely.
  • I had little in the way of injuries this race (little sore ankle, slight stiffness in back {from rocks} and a scratched arm from thorns)
  • I got a nifty new T-shirt. Without these races I might have to go out and buy some. But now I don't which is good.
  • This time I felt like I ran the course rather than the other way around. (When I finished the Double Trouble I was physically decimated at the end of it. Which is why I need a year off from that one.)

I think that small races are important to develop your confidence and to see all the small things that are necessary to do well on a race. I have learned a lot in my three small races {The Broad Street Run (10miles), Double Trouble 15k (Trail Run), and the Marsh Creek Raptor Run (5 miles}. I have learned about water stations, carrying water, pacing, sun, clothing and hats, pre race nutrition, post race nutrition and rest, race logistics and more. There is so much to be aware of and don't even know to be aware until it is probably too late. It is better to make any mistakes you are going to make on small ones.

So in short, I could have run faster if I could run hills better but I am still pleased with the time. I am only disappointed in that I had so much energy at the end and I liked the course. I would recommend doing small races to get a feel for race logistics and other factors that you might not think about. Also, I don't feel so over my head anymore, which is good for me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quest for the Holy Grail

I left my home this morning in an attempt to find some energy gel. I had decided to start using it on my long runs. I thought this would be as simple as driving down to the nearby GNC, paying the clerk, thanking them and leaving this was not the case...

The intrepid knight left his castle on his steed named Kia in search of the holy grail. Knowing its rumored location the Knight hurried from his secured lands with his charge, his daughter Emily in tow. When he arrived at the location of the Grail, known as GNC, he inquired with the keeper of Grail of its location.

"we once had the grail, many actually, but now it is on back order"

Back order thought the knight, is this possible. Surely many are in need of the grail to keep it in stock. The knight inquired if the keeper might contact other GNC grail keepers to inquire if they had some in stock. The keeper replied that she was from New Jersey and didn't know where other GNC's were in the region. The knight thought it was odd that someone's residence precluded knowledge of other like businesses in the region. The knight would have kept a list. But he left perplexed and disappointed.

The knight left with his young daughter to search for another store. However, 4 year olds have their own schedules and it required a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. There is great evil in the Chuck E. Cheese and the knight knows this. But he agreed to take his daughter for a quick video game break, ever vigilant against the evils that lay within. 45 minutes of games later, they were on the road in search of the holy grail.

He tried two successive potential locations for the Grail. but both replied that they already had one and didn't need another. (monty python reference). Rather, they really replied that they did not stock them. Does no one run in Philadephia, the city population is 1.2 million and the metro is over 5 million. It does seem inconceivable. The knight did not lose hope. He knew of a place fraught with danger that might be a potential location. A mall, the Franklin Mills Mall, a large one with many locations that might be useful. However, as he lived a ways off there was much travel involved.

After arriving at the Mall, our knight and his young daughter walked quickly to the GNC where they did in fact sell Holy Grails and they were willing to part with a box for a reasonable price. The knight was relieved. It only took him 3 hours to find the grail, he was so grateful that his daughter scored a small stuffed dog from a local toy store. All is well that end's well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Philly Distance Run

Last year began my aborted attempt to run this race. Try number two as it were. It was disappointing to have to deal with runners' knee when what I really wanted to do is get out there run and get better. This year is different for many reasons.

  • I have been running solidly for 4 months without issue beyon a couple of small injuries.

  • I have been consistent in my milage

  • I have over the past couple of weeks put in 7 and 8 miles on my long runs.

  • After having done both the Broad Street Run (10miles) and the Double Trouble (15k mountain trail) I have race experience.

  • At my current health level I am already capable of completing the course

However, I am not one to rest on my laurels. I have put together my training program for the Philly Distance Run. It is a standard program moving from 22 to 26 miles over the next 8 weeks until the Distance Run. I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Marsh Creek Raptor Run is on Sunday and I am excited to do my best on this one. I will be shooting for about 1 hour and 10 minutes for the 5 mile course. I think this is a conservative goal and I hope to be able to complete it.

Just like Tokyo ... except slower

Once upon a time I lived a summer in Tokyo, I loved it. Part of it was that I lived in a nice area that had a city park not too far from where I lived. In this park was a track and I would go there every day after work at the law firm I was working at and run laps. I would walk a lap and then run a lap. Not like I run now but as fast as I could without dying. I would be physically spent at the end of each lap then I would huff and puff for a lap to the endless amusement of the older Japanese folk who were in the park doing some tai chi or just watching their grandchildren while they played on a nearby playground. They probably thought I was a crazy bird. I lost alot of weight on this little program along with Japanese food which is both very good and not as heavy as our diet here in the states. I loved Japan, I would like to live there again someday. Unfortunately when I came back to the states I put the weight back on.

So today, I went back to my interval training. I have been reading other posts about speed work on other sites and I decided it was time to put it back in. So today I went with a run as fast as I can for a quarter mile then walk for .1 miles then run for .25 walk for .1, well you get the idea here is the result on the .25's broken down by minutes per miles.

1. 8:38 mile
2. 9:10 mile
3: 9:30 mile
4: 10:01 mile
5: 9:36 mile
6: 9:10 mile
7: 9:50 mile
8: 10:15 mile

It was Tokyo revisted, and it was nice workout. I was beaten and huffing at the end but it was good and my pace was good for me. I will try to put together one of these a week. I have a weight check on the 25th of the month and I will update the tracker then.

Keep running...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Morning of relative Sloth

I tried my second morning of 5 am and things did not go very well. I said, "time to get up." Then somehow it was 6:10 and I got up. I have to work on the very early morning thing. When I was in the Army I used to do that stuff all the time. You have seen the movies running and singing. "If I had a low IQ I could be a tanker too" Just a little morning run with 1000 of my closest friends. But that was a long time ago.

Back to today, I did get a nice run in.

I hit the paved trails of Pennypack Park. There were a couple of deer to keep me company along the way as well as a half dozen rabbits and chipmunks. I did well for me and I think my speed is getting better:

Mile 1: 12:45 - mile 1 is always suspect for me so this is outstanding on the personal best effort.

Mile 2: 12:15 - This is virtually light speed for this train and I felt like I was in control of the course

Mile 3: 11:42 - a GREAT finish. I was beaten when I was done but the speed was very good. I was impressed with today. The race is coming on Sunday. I will take it easy the rest of the week. 2 miles tomorrow, 2 miles on Saturday.

Nothing sinister on the roads today.

Martial Arts:

Although not running related, I do like to add some information on my classes. Tuesday night, we did a lot of bag work and I can feel my hand speed coming back. Although my ability to anticipate is not what is was. When I work with a partner, I take a lot of shots. Well, with time comes ability. I have been out of it for a few years. Strangely, I can now kick over my head again which is probably strange to see from a 260 pound guy who is definitely carrying the weight low. We worked on some punch traps and parrys and then I worked on some advanced techniques with some of the higher belt students. It was a good night. I always feel challenged and tired at the end.

Injury Report:

My heel still hurts and I hope it goes away soon. I need to be more careful in class. My ribs are a bit sore and my shoulders and back are sore from my increased punching routines in the evenings. But with time comes familiarity. My thighs are sore for similar reasons, lots of lunges and lots of kicks. Overall B+ for my health. I have to start at A- due to my weight.

Quote of the Day
I was reading on Half Fast (see link to side) about motivation and motivation techniques. One of my own is this we all live and die but what we do in between is what really matters. How will you make a difference? How will I?
-- I run to make a difference in my own health
-- I do pro bono work to make a difference in my community

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Evil Spirits on my morning run

Welcome travellers to my sinister tale. Our hero for lack of a better word or Rob as he is known to his friends began his morning much like any other. He rolled out of bed at 5 am and made a half a bagel with some peanut butter. As Rob carries a certain amount of paranoia regarding trans fat the PB is all natural. After this our hero gets dressed and catches up on the morning news. After 30 minutes he straps his water bottle and keys to his waist and heads out the door. Things seem normal enough to our unsuspecting adventurer. He briskly walks a few blocks to the entrance to the trails of Pennypack Park. Of course there is nothing to fear here, it is a familiar place after all... or is there. Ha ha ha (infer sinister laughing here).

Rob takes off at a blazing speed, rather moderate, rather pretty slow. Down the horse trails ever vigilant for the presence of fresh horse manure. The rocks are jutting and the tree roots a constant reminder of the treachery of the course. Not too much but you do have to keep your eyes open. He runs through the first mile with little difficulty or event. The humidity is high and the first mile is the toughest to get a good time on due to a certain amount of warm up. But he logs a 13:45 not too bad. He does not know the dangers awaiting him in mile number 2.

There is no mile marker on an lcd readout on a Garmin gps to mark this entry into danger. Our hero is heating up now and running a 12 minute pace for mile 2. This is an adventurous pace for our hero. He is breathing well and the sweat is rolling down a bit. A drop of sweat seeks his eyes. Ahhhhh, the sting. He reaches up to wipe away the sweat and when he does he doesn't see the up coming rock and branch. TWIST. The right ankle of our hero has been twisted. He yells out, well he wants to. Within two steps another tree branch. The left ankle has also been twisted. Yikes, damn. Gingerly our hero continues on. But he slows down to a 14:30 pace for a time. His ankles start to behave the evil spirits abated, or so he thinks. He runs again at the 12:00 pace. Then he brings his hand up to his brow to wipe some sweat and the left lens on his glasses pops out of the frame. "What the Hell!!!" He stops to pick up the glass and sees the loose screw in the frame. The glasses are tucked into the shirt and the lens into the pocket of the water belt. He continues on. But now the spirits have him right where they want him. Lawyers read a lot and have bad eyes, well not all of them but our hero does.

The world is now fuzzy, but he runs on as best as he can and manages a 13:50 miles even with the sabotage of the evil spirits. Mile 3 Our hero manages to back track whence he came. On two occasions narrowly avoiding horse manure. Close calls but he is safe at the entrance of the park at 13:20 for mile 3. He avoided the spirits this time, will he be so lucky in the future, we will see....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How did all this running start?

Every runner has a story. As I took an injury morning today, I thought I should share my story. A short note on today, I am generally fatigued and just needed the morning off. I run three weekdays and will just push everything up a day, I can flexible. I was once a very active guy. I achieved a black belt at 20 and was in the army for 5 years in my late teens and early 20's. During this this time I exercised constantly, it seemed. During my martial arts days, I would exercise up to 6 hours a day. I did not run then but I did spar a lot. When I was in the military I ran a good deal. Being a combat related job we marched and ran all the time it seemed. Then I left the military to pursue more academic endeavors.

During my undergraduate studies, I still practiced kung fu so I was a good shape. I was an off again on again student for a bit of time and didn't graduate with my B.A. until I was 30. Then I was off to law school. Here is where the trouble starts. I did not know what it meant to study until law school. It seemed all I ever did was study. I woke up went to class came home and studied until I went to sleep. I did this for about 3 years. I am not a terribly gifted academic and I always felt I was behind. This is probably not true but it felt true at the time. So I gained some weight. I gained 45 pounds in my 3 years of law school. Then I got a job at a big firm. Again lots of hours with a fair amount of stress thrown in for good measure. Non lawyers have probably heard of the billable hour, well living this can be an adventure not worth retelling, suffice to say it is hard (12 hour days and some weekends). In a year and half I gained another 40 pounds. Things are not looking good for me. I am getting tired climbing stairs. So, the stressed out new father and husband heads out of the big firms and takes a step back. I started doing some less stressful law work, but it was also more sedentary than normal law work. So I gained more weight, about 20 pounds. So here I am about 105 pounds more than where I was 7 years ago. I said Yikes, well I said something more colorful but you get the idea. The worst part was that I was at the end of where I could buy clothes off the rack. I was almost to the big and tall store range. Scary thought for me, I was looking at xxl shirts and pants in the 44" range. At 6' I did not look awful but it was not good for someone who had generally been between 190 and 200 for most of their adult life. Here I was at almost 300 pounds. I was scared.

I had to do something. A woman I worked with, Lillian, was a runner. She competed in long distance stuff, half marathons, a marathon and so on. She talked about running at work and I though I would give it a try. I didn't do so well at first. I went out with cross trainers the first time and killed my feet. I did it twice more before going to my local running store. They helped me into the right shoes (I pronate mildly). Then I learned about wicking clothes, blisters, chaffing and everything else that goes with running. I started with a mile here a mile there. I was doing well and trying to get up to the Philly Distance Run. Well my intentions were better than my ability. I developed runner's knee and couldn't make it. This injury lingered and it took me about 4 months to recover from it. I tried to do too much too fast, my problem in life generally speaking. So I was unable to compete in last years event. This year I will make it. So March rolls around and I am back to the old weight again, so I make a more focused effort to run. After some time I really catch the running bug. I feel better, I lose some weight and my mood generally improves. I have been on my program for about 4 months now and I am hooked in. I enjoy running for lots of reasons (I get some alone time to think, stress reduction, health benefits, some spiritual aspects, and enjoying to be able to go faster). Starting was the hardest part. I am a runner even if it looks like jogging to others. I can now run 10 miles and can run 6 without stopping, my average run has gone from a 16:30 minute mile to 13:30, I dropped three notches on my belt and have lost about 30 pounds, I no longer have to look at xxl shirts only xl. I have a long way to go but it all started with the first steps.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mid Month and Coming week

Mid Month Report:

Total Runs: 9

Long Runs: 1 x 7 miles, 1 x 8 miles (felt terrible after each on but better after the second than the first, could be progress???)

Points of interest or concern:
concern - post race health after long runs - energy very poor
good - no more blisters after long runs (that's good)
good - clothes fit better and down another notch on my belt
good - Speed better (both running and in Martial Arts class)
good - Passed recent belt test - yeah for me

Total Miles: 39 (next two weeks projection 42)

The Coming Week:

M: Run rest.
pm - Kenpo workout
It is offically a cross training day so I will try to squeeze in 200 kicks and 4oo hand strikes and then put some technique practice in.

T: am - 4 miles on the Trail. With the race on Saturday I need to get some trails in this week.
pm - Kenpo class

W: am - 5 miles on the path.

Th: am - 4 miles on the trail.

F: Cross training day. 300 kicks, 400 punches + techniques.

Sa: am - 3 miles on the trail. Just a light run nothing too exciting with some cross training maybe 200 kicks and punches.

Su: Race - Marsh Creek Raptor Run -- I signed up for this race because it sounds a little like Jurassic Park with the Raptor part. But it is 5 or 10 miles depending on what I want to do. I am thinking 5 today.

Next weight check is the 25th of the Month. I am not concerned really, as long as I exercise everything will go to plan. But what I am really concerned about is my long distance endurance. I am really feeling miserable after the run is over. I will have to do some research into this. I think I will try to put some cereal or a power bar down before I go out tomorrow. Usually I run on a pretty empty stomach due to a hurl factor I experience when exercising too soon after eating. Disgusting, I know, sorry.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I wish I could do it over again.

I wish I could say I ran yesterday, but I can't. Life got a little out of control and I did not make the time for a run. Sad. My wife needed some help with a comparative essay on the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanjing. Being I emphasized my undergrad in genocide and ethnic cleansing studies, I have a decent background and a nice library for this discipline. Well, 6 hours were displaced from my day and I was catching up all day. i.e. no run.

Today, I went for an 8 mile run. I wish I was in better shape. I ran about a 15 minute pace the entire way and did not need to walk until mile 6. It was a nice effort. I finished in about 2 hours and I felt better at the end than I did the week before. But I was beaten by the course again. I took some time to take a shower and down some gatorade. Then I went grocery shopping for a couple of hours. But at 3 pm I hit a wall. I needed a nap, 2 hours later I felt better. But I don't like that it takes so much out of me on 7 and 8 mile runs.

My new breathing techinque is paying off. The 2-2 rhythm with mouth breathing is the way to go. I don't ever feel winded and I have energy for the run every time. I think I in the future I will try to energy load for the long runs. I will try to bring some power bars for the long runs in the future. The short of this is that the long runs hurt me right now. I feel physically damaged by the 7 to 8 milers and I have to find a way to counter this before the half marathons in the fall. It may be that the heat is too much in the summer and it will all be worked out in the fall. But right now I am feeling weak on the long ones and I have to work though that weakness.

Injury Report:

My heel is still hurting me. I think I hyper-extended my lower achillies at my Kenpo class last week. Then the 400 kicks on Friday stiffened up my legs. I think I did too much. But if I keep after the kicks I will get better. Running doesn't really strengthen you legs very much so I will need to so some lunges and kicks to keep up my strength. Besides the heel, thighs are stiff, hamstrings a little tight, lats and traps a little tight. Just some mucle tightness really. I will recover Monday is a recovery day for a reason

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Weekend Plans?


As I indicated yesterday was cross training day, which for me is a martial arts workout. So I went thouugh 5oo hand strikes with 400 kicks along with some technique practice. I was beat, kicks take it out of you. I try to power into each kick and punch so I really feel it today. I felt like I took a beat down. I really wanted to quit about halfway through it all. I felt terrible. But I gutted it out even though I didn't want to. It helps that I have this blog, it makes me more responsible to my exercise. If I quit I have to say, "I quit". I really don't want to do that. So I finished. I don't want to be the guy who doesn't do what he says. But the fact I tell people what I am going to do makes it more likely that I will actually do it. Well, I am glad I finished

It is my goal today to do a 4 miler. I will try to get down to Kelly Drive later on. Kelly Drive is one of Philadelphia's wonderful landmarks. It is essentially a running lane along the Boat House Row, where the University rowers keep their boats. There is usually an event or some crew practice on the river. Also, there are a number of statutes along the way. It is a nice of mix of nature and art. Very nice. It is nice there is a Viking statute along the way, it appeals to my hertiage.

The dreaded long run. I have a 7 miler scheduled for tomorrow. The big ones scare me, I will keep you posted on how it works out. I have a race next Sunday so I have to keep on pace. I will post an update on Monday.

have fun this weekend

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Special Thanks

Thanks to Elkerette at Wheezy Whinings for turning me onto the tracker function. She had one on her site so I added one as well. I hope she doesn't mind a me copying. Anyway, this is a nice way to easily look at my weight loss goals and accomplishments, such as they are.

Not what I planned


I had planned to go for a 3 mile trail run this morning. It didn't work out, I was beat this morning and didn't make it. I went out tonight but my gps was out of juice. (I graduated with about a 3.8 gpa from undergraduate and I did graduate from law school but I still do stupid things like forget to plug in the gps ... go figure). So I set out on a 4 mile course I know, 1 mile of trail and 3 of paved path. I can't give a breakdown but it was 4 miles in 53 minutes. That is about my pace. A regular run. It was a nice break from watching time during the race to determine my pace. I just went with what was comfortable. It was a refreshing change, just listen to the body and go with the flow.

Cross training day.
100x front kicks
100x side kicks
100 x roundhouse kicks
100 x back kicks
100x punches
100x sword hands
100x back fists
100x palms
100x spearhands

Then each 20 techniques 5 x each. It should take about an hour. I will be beaten when I am done, but nothing like a good martial arts workout to make you feel alive. Looking forward to pain, sometimes I am a freak.

Injury report: Right heel is still a bit tender, but everything else is in the pink.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

Today's Run:

I went out this morning for a 5 miler in a heat advisory at my favorite haunt, Pennypack park. Mostly flat with some rolling hills adjacent to the creek with a couple of bridge crossings. Sad news, I did not get out in time so I went for a 4 miler. Humidity was very high, and it was oppressive even at 6:30 am. So here is the result.

Mile1: 13:40
Mile 2: 13:11
Mile 3: 14:05
Mile 4: 13:20

Mile 3 I took on a good amount of water and walked about a 1 minute and half while doing so. Then I hustled to get a decent pace at the end of the mile. I feel good about it. I would have liked to have done 5 miles but I didn't have the time. Well we do what we can when we can.

I was able to run stretchs at 10 and a half minutes. I couldn't do that forever but it was nice to be able to do that. A train is built for power not speed. Well this train did a little speed today, well for a train.

Injury report: I dinged my right heel at class last night, a little tender but it won't affect my running. In addition, took a palm to the nose and an elbow to the ear. Just a couple of glancing blows so no trouble. My ribs always take one or two stray shots, but this is just part and parcel. I am fine with everything except the heel today.

Tomorrow: 3 mile trail run ... Keep running.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sometimes I feel Smooth ... Not often

It was forever ago that I was a black belt, some 19 years truth be told. I have practiced off and on through my life in various kungfus and karates. Lately it has been time off since 2002. As you all may know, I started up again in March of this year. Since that time I go once a week while my wife is in school and try to practice on the off days as much as I can. Most times I feel like a tap dancing hippo, a bit out of my element if you know what I mean. But there are times like tonight when I feel like I have it together.

Tonight, I could slip, glide and maneuver. It doesn't come often but sometimes things click like they did when I was in my 20's and I feel that I am not wasting my time. I have always felt better when I was training and even at my hefty 260 I still feel good doing my techniques. It is not really nostalgia as much as it is familiarity. My daily routine feels better when I practice and when I can pull it off with speed power and footwork all together, I feel I accomplished something.

It's a good feeling. As I have practiced since March I have had more moments. I look forward to even more.

New to the Blog Roll

I have added a few new Blogs to the roll. These are all personal blogs about people getting out on the road and getting it done in their own way. Some are more advanced than I am but I find that stories of other runners help me to get out there each day.

Here are the new ones:

Miles to Go: Arun Gupta site on running and other topics. He nicely links some running based reading as well as his running adventures. He is a far more advanced runner than I. I hope to be able to do 18+ miles with just a word. If I did such a thing I would be jumping up and down. I think his site is useful, this is where I found some of the breathing information I recently posted.

Run 4 Your Life: Vic Kaiser's blog regarding his running in the Houston area. I find Mr. Kaiser's blog refreshing as he is another plodder like me. He gets out there and gets it done.

Run Happy: An Oklahoma based running blog. There hasn't been any activity in a month but I like the attitude of posting which has a nice spirit to it.

Breathing Revisited

I tried the new breathing technique this morning for my 3 mile jaunt through the park. It works great. I am surprised. I did the 2-2 breathe through the mouth out through the mouth rhythm. I had a lot more energy during the run and posted a pretty good time for me. 35 minutes for 3 miles. Which is good considering the humidity was insane even at 6:30 in the morning. There was so much moisture in the air (w/ sweat) that my hands looked like I had soaked in a tub for 30 minutes. Wierd, maybe the wierdest thing I have experienced running. Serves me right for running during a heat advisory, oh well no one ever accused me of being a genius. I do stupid things like this on a regular basis.

Stupid run things so far this year:

Run after an ice storm
Run on a sprained ankle
Run 8 miles with no water
Run a Mountain course on street shoes
Run during a heat advisory

there is more to come I am sure.

Well keep running... I will be doing 5 tomorrow.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Finding my Rhythm

One of the hardest things I have had to do since I have started running again is to find my breathing Rhythm. For me it is not natural to just breathe while running, which you can guess could lead to a short run if you don't breathe. So I have had to insert an artifical rhythm, which from what I have read is not all that unusual. Below I have added some information I recently looked at on an English website.

The Breathing Issue

Most elite athletes use a 2-2 breathing rhythm. That is they breathe in for two steps and they breathe out for two steps. The 2-2 breathing rhythm means you are taking 45 breaths (assume you now have a strike rate of 90) which is slow enough to allow for good depth of breathing. It is recommended to practice all kinds of breathing patterns, just to become familiar with them and to note your body's reaction. Try the 3-3 breathing rhythm, 4-4 breathing rhythm and try unequal breathing rhythms such as 3-2 and 2-3. All the athletes I work with (except the sprinters) use either a 2-2 or a 3-3 breathing rhythm. I personally use the 2-2 breathing rhythm starting the breathing cycle on the left foot. If you use the 2-2 breathing rhythm and you experience stitch then switch the breathing rhythm to start on the other foot or switch to a 3-3 breathing rhythm until the stitch subsides.

Long term analysis conducted by Jack Daniels has found that elite athletes in races up to and including the 10K use the 2-2 breathing rhythm at the start of the race and after completing about two-thirds of the race they switch to a 2-1 breathing rhythm. For races longer than 10k the 2-2 breathing rhythm is used for the whole distance, perhaps shifting to a 2-1 breathing rhythm in the last minute or two for the sprint finish. An important point is that your breathing rhythm will not only tell you how hard you are working but also allow you to control how hard you work. http://www.brianmac.co.uk/economy.htm

I also read an article by Mindy Solkin which I think is worth the time. Ms. Solkin discusses not just rhythm of breath but how to breathe. It is very comprehensive.

I think this sums up the issue pretty well. I had been using a shorter breathing routine where I was taking a couple of short breaths along with a couple of short exhales. This made for a sustainable rhythm but did not really put enough oxygen into my system. I have been using he 2-2 method discussed above, with a more constant (yet shallow) inhale and exhale. This seems to work better for me. I had been breathing in through the nose in out through the mouth, but based on what I have read I will try more mouth breathing.

I would be interested in hearing what other runners use in terms of their breathing rhythm.

Let me know???

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Back to Basics

My run today thew me down and trampled by decrepit corpse. Sad state of affairs really. I went out for my long run, not really long in the larger scope of things and not really long for me either (7 miles). But it tore me up, the humidity was pretty high but the heat wasn't terrible but I got into trouble about mile 5. I was on an average pace for me about 13 minutes, nothing exciting. But when I got to mile 5 I hit the wall and the course began to run me. I had taken fluid through the track so I was not overly dehydrated but my body quit on me. I think the short answer is that I had not been making long runs recently. I have been doing mostly 2 to 4 mile runs and working on speed. This is fine but I needed to keep the long runs in the diet so to speak. I didn't do that and I paid the price. Better to do that in training than during a race but it was humbling.

My log for the week was:

M: 2 miles
T: 3 miles (Trail Run)
W: 2 miles
F: 3 miles
S: 4 miles (Trail Run)
Su: 7 miles

It is not bad really but the previous weeks have not had anything over 4 for a few weeks. Not good. The result above is: 21 miles. The total is fine but the way I get there leaves something to be desired. It should be :

M: Rest
T: 3 miles (Trail Run)
W: 5 miles
Th: 3 miles
F: Rest
S: 5 mile (Trail Run)
Su: 6-9 miles

Total: 22 to 25 miles

I am a little disappointed in myself. I know that the longs are most important and I got swept up in improving my speed over the endurance of the long. I will keep this in mind. Staying on target is so important. (Or on message as like our President, personally I don't like the message). I have to be critical to get the results I am looking for, namely goal of 190 and short term of 250 by August 12 (birthday). To get there I will have to train better. I will dust off my half marathon plan and work it up. I am don't like being disappointed in me, it makes me sad. sniff, sniff. I hope everyone else's training is going well.

Keep running... I will be and doing it right for a change.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Am I fast??

I usually think of myself as a bit of plodder when it comes to running, this is mostly because I am. So when I think of speed it is usually is a jealous sort of way, wow that guy is fast!!! Well that is what a 260+ lb man does in terms of speed. It is tough to get the train up and moving as they say. So when I achieve some speed, even if it isn't fast for normal folks, I am quite happy. I have taken the old two mile run from the Army and turned that into my tempo run. In other words a sustainable pace that is uncomfortable. I am not really up to do doing much more than that. Today I ran the two miles in 19 minutes and 50 seconds. Now to the average person this is pretty slow or atleast a shrug and ok fine. Nothing special. But to someone who generally runs a 12 to 13 minute pace this is flying. I got into a nice grove with my breathing and everything fell into place. I will never catch a Kenyan without a car, but for me this is a small victory, the dreaded 10 minute barrier. As my tempos pick up pace so my long runs come along with the ride as I condition my body for more speed. It is nice to see some improvement.

The question was "Am I fast?" The answer is really, No. But I am alot faster than I was in March. I started running 16 to 17 minute miles back in March and April. The fact that I can do a mile now in under 10 minutes is a great improvement.

Good luck to everyone else... Keep running.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Can I Keep My Jersey - Paul Shirley

I keep a running book list on the side of the Blog. I think reading is important so I keep the list of my recents on hand. I recently started reading "Can I keep My Jersey" by Paul Shirley. It really is a great little read. I usually pick up a summer sports book to get me into the mood of summer. Last year was the uplifting story of Barry Bonds in "Game of Shadows". This year I switched to basketball. I know some things about basketball but not enough to be called a true fan. I know what a pick and roll looks like, I know what travelling is, and I can spot a foul; however, alot of the technical parts of the game will probably always be a mystery to me.

That said, I have been reading Paul Shirley's book and I think it is great. It is great for alot of reasons that have nothing to do with Basketball. The focus of the Book is how Paul Shirley attempts to get a break into the NBA. He describes his efforts in a self deprecating way that is equal parts wit, sarcasm, and observant. The end result is funny. His experiences playing basketball overseas are excellent and bring back memories of trying to (and not always finding success) fit into a foreign culture (for me I lived in a Japan for a short time and was in Saudia Arabia and Iraq during the Persian Gulf War of 90'/ 91'.) So for anyone who has tried but not succeeded in fitting in another culture you will enjoy this book.

Paul Shirley has cusp NBA potential. He has enough to try out for a 12th roster spot but not really enough to be a starter. So he plays some European Ball as a starter. His recollections about some NBA players are great and give some insight into personalities that the average fan suspects about their heroes. The book is a summer book and not a very serious work but it is a nice distraction and it keeps me entertained. It is good and worth the time.

My Weekend

Things Coming Up:

The Marsh Creek Raptor Run is a just a few weeks away and I don't want to be unprepared for a trail run like I was for the Double Trouble. I went and bought some Brooks trail runners as I mentioned before and broke them in this weekend. I will say that I like the feel of the Brooks more than the Saucony's I have been street running in. I think I might switch when it comes time for new street shoes. But all that said I did 3 miles on Sunday and 3 and 1/2 this morning on the local trails. It was great to run the trails. My back took a bit of a beating but that is part of trail running, I am sure it will strengthen over time. I will add two trail runs a week to help me get ready for the "Raptor". I think there is something different about running trails as well, I can't claim any native american blood. But maybe it is something about my Scottish/ Norwegian heritage of running hills and fjords, who knows. But I will say there is something about running trails that is appealing on a spiritual level. I like it.

Things Done:

Saturday: Yellow belt test. I did fine, it was not a hard test by any stretch of the imigination. I have done much worse in my day. But it was fine. I worked with a parter through striking and kicking drills and then onto techniques for about an hour and 15 minutes total. It was nice. There was a little ceremony at the end and lots of folks got new belts. Good times.

Friday/ Saturday: Sick kid. Sometimes the demands of parenting out weigh other concerns. My daughter caught a virus and was throwing up for Friday and Saturday. So I was not able to do much beyond my Test on Saturday.

Sunday: Sunday day: went to Carnival with family and rode some overpriced rides and threw some darts for prizes. Purchases a hermit crab for Emily, it seems a dull pet but kids who knows. She was sick so I wanted to do something nice for her once she felt better. Ran Sunday night for 3.5 miles on the trails of Pennypack park. Nice run, I certainly did like the trails.

Keep running ... I will be.